You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Suppose there was a vacant lot across the street from you. You look out the window one day and you see a car with those Realtor license plates parked on the street in front of the lot and a well-dressed woman and another man and woman, perhaps a married couple, are walking around the lot. They are motioning and pointing as though they are looking at an imaginary house on the lot. A week or so later, you look out the window again and there is a team of surveyors on the lot. Not too long after that a truck from the Taft Architecture Firm, LLC, is parked there. Finally, about a month later, a truck pulls up and on the back of it there is a big, yellow bulldozer.
It would be reasonable to figure that the couple you saw on the first day are having a house built on that lot. In fact, without talking to anybody involved, you could be fairly certain that that was what was planned.
With less than two weeks to go before Day One of the NFL draft, the Redskins are examining a piece of turf in the annual selection meeting. The surveyors are going over some territory that the Skins currently own no part of, with its southern border at about the 25th selection and its northern limits reaching to the 40th pick.
In an article here on WarpathInsiders.com earlier this week, I looked at who the Redskins were having in for visits and found that they were hosting some cornerbacks and outside linebackers who are projected to go anywhere from late in the first round to early in the second. CB's Antonio Cromartie and Kelly Jennings and LB's Thomas Howard and DeMeco Ryans aren't quite among the elite players in this draft, but they're almost certain to be gone when the Redskins own first selection at #53 comes up.
Just like it makes no sense to pay a crew to survey land that you have no intention of building on, it makes no sense for the Redskins to take up time and burn their limited draft visits (they get 30) on players they have have no chance of drafting.
The other indicator that the Redskins could be looking at moving up is their recent history. Both in free agency and in the draft, the team has displayed a pattern of identifying a player that it wants and then doing what it takes to get him. We saw how they wined and dined Adam Archuleta, Andre Carter, and Antwaan Randle El and made them offers that they couldn't refuse. They didn't bat an eye in sending two draft picks to San Francisco in exchange for Brandon Lloyd. In 2004 they saw Chris Cooley sitting there in the third round and dispatched their 2005 second to be able to draft him. Last year Gibbs liked what he saw in Campbell and did what it took to get him.
Is there any reason to think that if the Redskins do decide that they want one of these players that they've brought in they're not going to do whatever it takes to get him?
And, at this point, they should. If you've built your team one way you need to stick with your modus operandi. Worse even than having a bad plan is to keep on changing plans. You have to have to guts to stick with what you've been doing and see it through. This team is on the verge of having a two-year window to win a championship open up for them. Now is not the time to get a sudden rash of patience.
Being patient and letting lower-round picks develop is one way to get the job done in the NFL. You could argue that it's the best way to go about it. But the slow and steady train left the station a couple of years ago.
Or, to turn back to the house analogy, you can't build three-fourths of the house in a Tudor style and then decide you want to do the rest as a Colonial.
This Redskins team was built by identifying the players they wanted and doing whatever it took to get those players. Why should they pick now, when they are very close to being a Super Bowl contender, to be patient and let the draft come to them?
Such a move would not come without a high price. A move into the first round would cost the #53 pick and next years first-rounder. The 2007 first alone would net a pick somewhere in the middle of the second.
Of course, it has to be the right deal for the right player. Just as bad as changing your plan midstream is making a deal just for the sake of making a deal. If they stay at #53 the chances are they can get a starting-caliber player there. Rather than chancing it, though, if things fall together right the Redskins should go up and get the guy they want.
Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com.